Tuesday, February 8, 2011


The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.  -- Psalm 126:3
The two verses prior to this one are recounting how God restored the fortunes of the people, while the two verses following this one ask God to remember to restore their fortunes.  In the present moment of verse 3, Israel stands in need.  In spite of their present need they affirm God's faithfulness and they celebrate with joy.

Joy in this sense is not equivalent to happiness; it is a fruit of the Spirit that comes as a result of pilgrimaging daily with God regardless.  It does not necessarily mean that everything is great and going the way one desires.   As Eugene Peterson says in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, 
"This joy is not dependent on our good luck in escaping hardship.  It is not dependent on our good health and avoidance of pain.  Christian joy is actual in the midst of pain, suffering, loneliness, and misfortune."
True joy arises out of the assurance we have of God's omnipresent atoning act in Christ that completes our life second by second.  Joy is a deeply held secret safety in God's control over my world -- my internal world running my thoughts, emotions and physical health, as well as my external world of work, and the sum of my social network.  Whatever happens God has a handle on it and will supply the ways to carry us through for a higher good that is quite possibly going to remain mysteriously clouded from our limited sight.  Joy arises out of an eternal certainty, not whether everything is going our way at the moment.  All we can do in the present moment is say with the Psalmist, "God has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy," while we wait for a future where whatever we might deem ourselves to have lost or not have is restored.  With joyful certainty we know it will be, by and by.

Lord, carry us and fill us with a joy that transcends our human ability to comprehend.  Amen.

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